Novel Research ‘Passport’ Could Speed Journey to Discovery For Investigators

Research Enablers

The research passport project is a Sydney Health Partners Initiative involving NSLHD and Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), as part of their contributions to Sydney Health Partners’ strategic platforms project.

“I’m really excited that Northern Sydney Local Health District is leading this particular project for Sydney Health Partners, because when we talk about supporting research the first thing we have to do is reduce the barriers to actually doing research,” said NSLHD Chief Executive, Deb Willcox.

The Partnership, which brings together NSLHD with three other Local Health Districts in Sydney, the University of Sydney and 10 medical research institutes including the Kolling Institute, aims to deliver the benefits of research innovation to patients and communities more quickly and consistently.

NSLHD Research Strategy and Partnerships Manager, Rebeka Freckleton, describes SHP as a “sandpit environment” where new ideas like the research passport can be developed and trialled.

A group led by Dr Tamsin Waterhouse, Ms Freckleton and colleagues from NSLHD and WSLHD is reviewing the different ways health and medical research is organised in hospitals within the Sydney Health Partnership. The Platform 3 Working Group is comparing the various processes the hospitals use for establishing research projects, including research ethics and governance approvals and access to electronic medical records and facilities.

“This pilot project could be very useful for university researchers who commence large three or five-year funded projects and sometimes find that a significant proportion of time in the first year is dedicated to obtaining approvals, access to sites and the like,” said Ms Freckleton.

“The research passport aims to stop the replication of information provision at multiple sites, allowing researchers conducting multisite studies to go through some of the process just once. Anything we can do to minimise the time required for these processes will benefit researchers.”

Clinical Trials Manager at Western Sydney Local Health District, Sharon Lee, says the passport project is allowing both NSLHD and WSLHD to look at the processes they each use to achieve the same outcome.

“We want to know whether the information we seek from researchers is based on policy,” said Ms Lee “Or is it a cultural thing particular to a local health district, or is it something we do for historical reasons?

“We are trying to strip it back to ensure that the credentialing questions we are asking researchers and the answers we are getting back are what is necessary for policy, and no more.”

“No one wants to be going backwards and forwards, they want efficient processes that can facilitate research and get research moving as quickly as possible.”
Ms Freckleton says the project has generated enthusiasm across Sydney Health Partners and beyond.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the governance officers in particular but the managers of the research offices are also enthusiastic,” she said.

“This project also brings together staff from Research Offices, HR, ICT and Health Information Services at both NSLHD and WSLHD, which is an amazing achievement.”